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Thursday, February 13, 2014


Penguin Books India believes, and has always believed, in every individual’s right to freedom of thought and expression, a right explicitly codified in the Indian Constitution. This commitment informs Penguin’s approach to publishing in every territory of the world, and we have never been shy about testing that commitment in court when appropriate. At the same time, a publishing company has the same obligation as any other organisation to respect the laws of the land in which it operates, however intolerant and restrictive those laws may be. We also have a moral responsibility to protect our employees against threats and harassment where we can. 
The settlement reached this week brings to a close a four year legal process in which Penguin has defended the publication of the Indian edition of The Hindus by Wendy Doniger. We have published, in succession, hardcover, paperback and e-book editions of the title. International editions of the book remain available physically and digitally to Indian readers who still wish to purchase it. 
We stand by our original decision to publish The Hindus, just as we stand by the decision to publish other books that we know may cause offence to some segments of our readership. We believe, however, that the Indian Penal Code, and in particular section 295A of that code, will make it increasingly difficult for any Indian publisher to uphold international standards of free expression without deliberately placing itself outside the law. 
This is, we believe, an issue of great significance not just for the protection of creative freedoms in India but also for the defence of fundamental human rights

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Outsourcing mummydom

While Shah Rukh Khan and Gauri's decision to have a third child will invariably boost surrogacy among Indian couples, it will, hopefully, also draw attention to the need for stricter legislation to prevent the exploitation of poor women in the rent-a-womb industry 


Our enduring interest in Shah Rukh Khan has to do with the idea that he is Every Indian Man: he’s been married to the same woman for decades, is passionate about cricket, is borderline religious, is obsessed with his children, and isn’t averse to swearing when he loses his temper. So when he and his wife, Gauri, decide to have a third biological child through a surrogate mother, it inevitably attracts attention. BMC health department troopers stormed his Bandra home after NGOs condemned him for engineering the creation of a male foetus – an unfounded rumour it turns out; obscure religious bodies issued fatwas and fertility clinics reported a spike in calls asking about the procedure. All jolly good.

Surrogacy is a miraculous way for those who cannot conceive to have a biological child. Widespread poverty, the near non-existent surrogacy laws (The Assisted Reproductive Technology (2010) Bill that aims to regulate the fertility industry has not yet been approved by parliament), high success rates achieved by implanting surrogate mothers with as many as five embryos at a time, and the relatively low costs of the procedure here compared to the West (where it could cost about $50,000) has made India the Mecca of the infertile medical tourist. Reports suggest the Indian rent-a-womb industry is now worth more than Rs 25,000 crore.

What of Indian couples who are infertile? The WHO estimates the overall prevalence of primary infertility in India is between 3.9 and 16.8 percent. Within our (selectively) pronatal culture, infertile couples have to deal with feelings of social inadequacy and deep unhappiness. Indeed, if the procedure was cheaper, more economically disadvantaged couples, both rural and urban, might opt for it.

Given all this, the sight of two individuals in early middle age who have ‘had their quota’ opting for another baby without the attendant discomfort of actually going through the pregnancy themselves seems to reduce the seriousness of the whole process of procreation to that of a fashion choice. Still, this could be the beginning of a trend. It's quite likely that every other sufficiently moneyed Indian couple - you don't have to earn like SRK to afford a surrogate, though you should definitely make your millions by the time the newest addition gets to college - will now seek to banish their midlife crisis by opting for yet another baby, neatly outsourced this time. Procreation is addictive and the success of the national family planning programme has meant that fewer people (except for desperately poor families where working children are contributing members) have more than two children. In such a scenario, baby hunger often does strike around the time the younger child enters middle school. Until now, most of us dealt with it by adopting a pet or enrolling for, say, pottery lessons. Then, along come Shahrukh and Gauri to show us we can relive the magic of the early days. Bye, bye, rediscovery of the 40+ self. Hello, era of soiled nappies... Act 2.

And what about the surrogate mother? In SRK’s case, reports suggest she is a close relative and therefore, not someone who is in it for monetary reasons. But this is unusual. Most Indian surrogate mothers rent out their wombs often at risk to themselves for as little as Rs 4 lakh because they want to ensure a better future for their own kids. Let’s be honest: Indian society is extremely unequal and commercial surrogacy -- legal in India since 2002 – is a new, quite ghastly way of exploiting the bodies of poor women.

“There are so many women who don’t want to see their own child dying... out of ... bad health, or not getting educated, not getting two meals a day. So that’s why so many women are available,” said Ranjana Kumari of the Centre for Social Research on the American channel CBS News in April this year. 

Ranjana Kumari is right. In the absence of strict legislation, all sorts of complications and attendant ethical dilemmas look set to emerge: What of abusive families that might force a woman to repeatedly offer her womb for hire? What about the Home Ministry circular that seeks to prevent non-Indian gay couples and unmarried heterosexuals from opting for surrogates? What of cases like the convicted Isreali paedophile who acquired a 4-year-old child from her surrogate mother?

But why pick on foreigners? Indeed, within the Indian context, the dystopian future looks increasingly like the feudal past when the women of wealthy families, handed over their babies at birth to wet nurses who breastfed them alongside their own. But while wet nurses often had a close bond with the children they fed, a commercial surrogate mother is merely a temporary carrier, useful luggage on a conveyor belt, and therefore apt to be treated as almost subhuman, an object.

 A Birkin bag. And not even as expensive.

Shah Rukh Khan and Gauri's decision to have a third child will boost surrogacy among well-to-do Indian couples and perhaps lead to something of a baby boom among the generation that had their first kids back in the late 1990s. It will, hopefully, also draw attention to the need for stricter pro-surrogate mother legislation to prevent the exploitation of impoverished women in India's increasingly profitable rent-a-womb industry. 

Pic courtesy

Friday, May 24, 2013

China in my hands!

I've been experimenting with permanent marker on some plain china plates I've had forever. Fired the plate at 180 degrees C for half an hour in my domestic oven. After it had cooled, I washed the plate with Pril and was happy to see it didn't come off. Hopefully, it'll stay through multiple washes. I'm now enthused enough to doodle on every bit of plain unadorned china I can find. Already started on my next plate.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

A Requiem for Paul

The last interaction I had with the late Paul Menezes aka @PSnide on twitter was not a pleasant one. I was having a conversation with @NigelBritto about the outrage in Goa over the accidental killing of four fishermen by a reckless coastguard ship and the lack of national attention to the incident vis-à-vis the reaction to the deliberate killing of fishermen from Kerala by Italian marines, when @PSnide got into the act.

Perhaps he believed he had to live up to his twitter handle; perhaps he had grown weary of my brash manner online and wanted to bring me down a few notches; perhaps he just happened to be in a bad mood that day.

Whatever the reasons, he made snide references to my father, a naval officer – who, incidentally, was on board the INS Delhi, one of the ships that liberated the Portuguese territories of Goa, Daman and Diu in 1961 -- and my supposed fondness for Kerala, a state I’ve never lived in though I am Malayali. A clueless Britto was tagged in on the conversation. The jibes about Kerala didn’t bother me. I would have been more affronted if he had attacked Mumbai where I grew up. However, though it’s been more than two decades since my father set sail for shores unknown I continue to hold his memory close and often wonder if death is a corridor to undiscovered continents, new ways of being, or an area of awful silence, the end of existence. I don’t play with Ouija boards or attempt to commune with the dead but I do continue to go over conversations I had with my father, fragments of which I remember with absolute clarity. I still seek his approval though he’s been long gone. @PSnide knew all this because he knew me, not in the way you know each other on twitter though you’ve never met, but in the way you know people in the real world, people you’ve met, people you’ve had long conversations with. The peculiar tone of his tweet was intended to act like a prod at an open wound. It worked. His tweet enraged me and provoked me into rudeness: ‘paul why don’t you fuck off’ I tweeted and that was that.

Less than a week later, @cyclingsultan stuttered down the phone line that Paul Menezes had been mowed down by a truck and that his new colleagues in Hyderabad were desperately trying to trace his next of kin.

Be Kind Rewind

Paul and I go back a long way, back to Mid-Day in Mumbai in the mid-90s when I was a reporter and he was a sub-editor. Back then, Mid-Day operated out of a precarious tin-roofed shack above its printing press in Tardeo. One of my recurring nightmares featured the office collapsing in on the press. But we were better off than the journalists at Inquilab, the Urdu language newspaper whose office, somewhere in the bowels of the press, was rumoured to be far worse. Ayaz Memon was the editor of Mid-Day, Ranjona Banerji was the assistant editor, Pradyuman Maheshwari headed features. J Dey, who was shot down by the underworld in June 2011 had just joined after – the ever active office rumour mill whispered - a stint in the armed forces, and was working on pieces about poaching and the destruction of forests – already a massive threat in a newly liberalised India. Shubha Sharma, whom he later married, was on the law beat and would regale other reporters with news of the bizarre goings-on in the courts. Meenal Agarwal, now a successful production designer in the Hindi film industry, was a staff photographer. Mumbai was still Bombay, the memory of the riots, that seared the country in the wake of the Ram Janmabhoomi movement and the demolition of the Babri Masjid, and the 1993 bomb blasts that killed 257 people and injured 700 in the city, were fresh; the slums covering the hillside behind the office hadn’t yet given way to shimmering high rises and a diminutive old Parsi ran the eatery across the road where Paul and I once grabbed a chicken puff and a Thums Up a few days after he joined Mid-Day. On that occasion we talked a lot, mostly about the office, and he said he had just moved from Goa.

Life went on. I got married – a trap I recklessly laid for myself. It was a disaster. For a while, I lived intermittently with friends because I couldn’t bear the sorrow in my mother’s eyes or the questioning looks of neighbours, or even worse the pity of my relatives. I abruptly changed jobs because I didn’t want my colleagues to know about my great failure. I joined the now-defunct Metropolis on Saturday, a Times of India publication, and set about trying to make some sense of life as a 25-year-old divorcee, someone whose marriage had lasted a ridiculous two months. A few months later, Paul joined the Bombay Times, which shared office space and an editor, Bachchi Karkaria, with the Metropolis. I was too busy huddling in my cloak of shame to focus on much else. Would I ever have a ‘normal’ life I wondered, would I ever find a partner or was I, in the unsaid words of my relatives, ‘damaged goods’? Slowly, as I emerged from my haze of self pity, I registered that garrulous Paul was an exacting desk hand who expertly weeded out copy errors… and that he was also peculiarly talented at pissing off the most sweet-natured girls.

Things came to a head when he got into a fight with a colleague over, of all things, an office chair. There was a scuffle and the matter was reported to Malavika Sanghvi, the new Bombay Times editor. I don’t know the details because by then, I had married the colleague I had been seeing for a year, and paying heed to the deafeningly insistent ticking of my biological clock had promptly become pregnant. I was advised bed rest and was completely cut off from office gossip because The Husband refused to talk shop when he returned – a practice he bizarrely clings to 16 years later. He did tell me, though, that Paul’s needless aggression with female colleagues had cost him his job, and that he was going back to Goa where his father was dying of cancer.

Fancy meeting you here!

I didn’t see Paul again for more than a decade. I didn’t even think of him. I had my sons in quick succession, I threw myself into domesticity, I took on silly jobs that bored me to death but allowed me flexibility. We moved to Pune and then to Delhi, where one fine day, Paul Menezes walked into my office at Nehru Place. He had come in for an interview at the edit shop where I worked and we chatted animatedly about Mumbai like the weary migrants we were. He didn’t get the job but we promised to keep in touch. Of course, we didn’t.

About this time, a Pravin Dabre started following me on twitter. He seemed to know me, to know details about my life though he was careful not to let on the extent of his knowledge. At first, it was amusing; then it became maddening. I scoured my memory for clues and one day as I was staring at yet another overly-familiar tweet, the pieces fell into place. Is that Paul? I asked. Pravin Dabre laughed it off saying I had thrown the most common Christian name possible at him. By now he had also sent me an FB friend request, which I didn’t accept because I was entirely convinced perverts were trawling the net especially for a glimpse of my kids.

A while later, maybe it was a few weeks, maybe it was a month, maybe it was more, Paul Menezes called to tell me he had joined a new neighbourhood paper in Gurgaon. By this time, utterly bored of editing soporific business reports and being polite to corporate assholes, I had quit my job and set myself up as a freelance journalist. I figured the family wouldn’t starve if I didn’t bring in the money and I was sure I’d make enough to occasionally treat the kids to junk food and buy myself the things I absolutely needed like that silk scarf or that irresistible leather tote. We had a longish conversation and discussed the possibility of a retainer for me with the new paper. Then, as I disconnected, I realized in a flash that Pravin Dabre WAS Paul Menezes. Immediately enraged, I dashed off an angry SMS accusing him of deceit. Dabre/Menezes responded with an equally affronted SMS and that’s where things stood until I began to feel remorseful.

Conversation started 29 July 2011 on Facebook

10:26 Manjula Narayan
Dear Paul,
you’re right. i do go off the deep end sometimes. I don’t know why I flipped out like that. But then I’ve always been like this too! I just hate deception which is strange cos its not like I’m some Harishchandra... Anyway, I’m sending you a friend request on your proper fb id. Im surprised you didn’t send a friend request under your real identity - I think that’s what freaked me out even more.
Hope you can forget that stupid sms.

Paul Menezes
What SMS? (",) And yeah, I’m sorry for the deception. Pls undrstand that it was not on purpose. Probably would have sent U a Fb request by now. Only we ‘met’ on twitter first and then it got complicated... What a tangled web we weave... etc.

It strikes me now that Paul Menezes’ life was all about weaving tangled webs. During the six months that I freelanced in Delhi, we met often. After a meeting at his office, he treated me to a cold coffee at the cafeteria and entirely unprompted, began talking about his life. His partner of many years had left him and he had just learnt of her marriage through her brother’s post on Facebook. She was a teacher he said and they had always presented themselves as man and wife. At work, he had made it known that he was divorced. We talked for more than an hour that day. Or he talked and I listened. He spoke admiringly about his father, about how he had escaped dire poverty in 1940s India – like my own father did – and had worked as a cook on British merchant vessels (I might be misremembering the details), about the pervasive consciousness of caste among Goan Christians and about his sisters, one of whom was a nun. I don’t recall him mentioning his mother.

Buff and Fluff

That New Year’s Eve, we threw a party. Almost all the invitees were journalists or had been at some point. We are an incestuous a bunch. The Husband ensured the bar was well stocked and ordered food from the one Mallu caterer in Gurgaon. Vats of chicken and mutton curry arrived, along with a packet of Keralite beef fry. I’d say I’m a pretty pathetic Hindu, but the one meat that fills me with revulsion now is beef. Strange considering that as a student I thought nothing of ordering plates of beef chilly at the St Xavier’s College canteen. Perhaps it was the visit as a cub reporter to the Deonar abbatoir that changed things. The sight of animals wading to their death through streams of blood at that cavernous chamber of horrors, of exhausted cows collapsing on the butchery’s ratty strip of lawn, the awful reek of blood made me give up meat for years and left me with a particular revulsion for beef. So when the friendly neighbourhood Keralite caterer handed me that packet of beef fry – buffalo meat, really, since the slaughter of cows is banned in northern India – I began whining at The Husband. I don’t want it in my house, I said. Why did you order it, I asked. And then, now that it’s here, I suppose we’ll have to serve it, I said, because that poor buffalo shouldn’t have died in vain.

The party was a success. Everyone loved the food and I pointed out the dals, the pulao, the bhajis, the chicken and mutton curries, the raita and the quadruped fry.

“Beef fry!” Paul exclaimed immediately fixing on the one obvious taboo item on the menu.

“Yeah, don’t you know, Mallus eat beef, all sorts of Mallus – Hindus, Muslims, Christians,” I said nonchalantly, which is certainly not the full truth because my grandmother would have killed herself before she touched the stuff. Paul, who seemed to be enjoying himself immensely and who told me it was the first time anyone had ever invited him to a party at their home, piled buff fry onto his plate. When dinner was done, I was touched that he offered to help wash up the gargantuan pile of crockery in the kitchen sink before he left.

“What do we do with this leftover piece of buff fry?” I asked The Husband when we were alone.

“Buff fry?” the man said puzzled, “You were so put off that I asked the chap to take it back and bring fried chicken instead.” Perhaps the excellent Scotch had made everyone forget about the not-so-fine difference between buff and fluff. I never enlightened Paul about the faux beef fry.

The Unravelling

Afterwards, I met him a few times at his office but things were beginning to sour there for him. Perhaps he wasn’t used to working at a small organisation where the boss had the last word. Perhaps he didn’t understand that often it’s best not to say too much. Perhaps he understood all that but couldn’t repress his personality. I gave him some numbers and hoped that would help. It didn’t.

He stopped calling me and we interacted only on social networking. In hindsight, everything appears portentous but one of the Facebook memories I have of him relates to the time both of us, with our shared fascination with death, clicked on the eerie ‘When will you die’ app on FB. In one of those coincidences that made my teeth chatter on the evening of May 6, I recalled that the first person to put it up on his FB wall was Tarun Sehrawat, the young Tehelka photographer who died last year of the malaria he contracted in Abujhmar, Chhattisgarh. The app predicted he’d die in 2030 of heart disease or some equally mundane condition. Mine said I’d go at around the same time ‘of natural causes’. I laughed uproariously because I’m given to laughing uproariously at things I can’t control… like the time of my own death. Paul’s prediction said he’d die in 2013. I don’t remember the cause.

“Come on, you can’t believe this rubbish; It’s just a stupid app!” I said when he pointed out the date.

Our interactions in the last year have been mostly on Twitter, where he became increasingly unpleasant. I noticed that his targets were usually tough, cheerful, intelligent, entirely admirable women his age. Perhaps, it’s the result of losing a woman and a job – that sort of thing can unhinge anyone I thought as I struggled to be nice to him. Until, one day, entirely unprovoked, he made a reference to my disastrous first marital misadventure – an experience I would gladly erase in Eternal-Sunshine-of-the-Spotless-Mind fashion if
I could.

Paul’s great talent was to sniff out the suppurating sores that you were ashamed or frightened of, the pustular boils on your psyche, the raw emotion that you hid from the world. I stared at the screen for a while, and threw a mock threat at him. I asked him, dear God, if he had a death wish. And I resolved to never interact with him again. I unfollowed him on Twitter though I didn’t bother to unfriend him on Facebook – it’s not my favourite place anyway – and mostly ignored him when he tweeted at me. My last unpleasant interaction with him on April 30 convinced me that I had been right to drop him.
And then he died.

A Man Alone 

I have never thought of Twitter as a place where real relationships are forged. I was wrong. Bhavana Nissima, @tw_bhav, Paul’s colleague at the firm he had just joined in Hyderabad could find no details about his immediate family, no address or telephone numbers among his personal effects. She spoke to @IamRana in Dubai, one of those whom Paul interacted with on twitter, who spoke to @cyclingsultan, who called me. The thought of Paul, dead among strangers and all alone, was horrible. It seemed hideous that he would have no one to take him home, to bury him in a family vault, to pray at his grave because no one knew his next of kin.

I walked around the room wringing my hands for a bit and then began to text people in Mumbai, people who would have known him from his time there in the 1990s. Author Jerry Pinto, @mahimkajerry, had no recollection of him; neither did Shefali Vasudev, former editor of Marie Claire, who began her career in Goa and whom Paul had mentioned in passing during one conversation… Another former colleague put me through to Ashley - a journalist in Goa, whose last name I never found out but who spent a good part of the night trying to locate Paul’s sisters and actually managed to track down the priest of the island of Santo Estevam where his family lived.

Before I froze him off my list, Paul had tweeted about the beauty of Diu and I thought he might have worked there before moving to Hyderabad. I remembered Naresh Fernandes, former editor of Time Out and author of Taj Mahal Foxtrot, whom I’ve known since he was a lanky, curly-haired student, had written a beautiful piece on Diu. This is a man with a real eye for detail and the ability to make connections between seemingly unrelated facts, which contributed to the success of Time Out  in India. A mutual friend had once (a-decade-and-a-half ago!) jokingly referred to him as “the squire of Bandra”. I was sure the squire would help. 
Naresh called the Catholic church in Diu and texted: “He came for mass every day, says parish priest. But knows nothing about his family”.
By now, the few people who conversed regularly with @PSnide were expressing their shock online. The man was cantankerous and couldn’t resist torture-by-tweet but he didn’t deserve to die. And what was to become of his body if no family was traced? I made a mental note to always carry identification on my person, to label The Husband’s number clearly in my phone list just in case I ended up under some truck too, and I wandered around the house, after the kids had fallen asleep, worrying about the fragility of existence.

Two hours later, a text from Naresh clinked into my cell phone: “Catholic mafia came through. Lady on next street has uncle who is married to his aunt”. Turns out Naresh had once sent Paul a friend request. Paul being Paul had said he couldn’t accept “because one of his cousins was on my friend list”. Working with the knowledge that they had friends, maybe even relatives, in common, Naresh made enquiries in the close-knit Bandra Catholic community. And managed to trace Paul’s uncle.

Things moved quickly after that; Bhavana informed Paul’s sisters, the body was moved to Goa and at 4 pm on the evening of May 8, a funeral service was held for Paul Joseph Menezes, aged 42, at the St Stephens’ Church at Santo Estevam in Goa.

A Requiem for Paul

Go gently, Paul, I don’t understand you any better now though my feelings for you have softened with your passing… mostly because of the guilt I feel at our last rancorous interaction. Perhaps there’s something for me to learn from this. Perhaps your sudden and premature lighting out into the shadow lands destined to stay mysterious a while longer to the rest of us has helped me recognise that I need to rein in my own snide voice, one that I expertly employ to hurt when I’m annoyed, which is more and more often these days.

I wish I had been kinder to you, Paul, and I wish you had been kinder to me too. But perhaps loneliness can eat a man alive; and perhaps it transformed Paul, the young man who munched puffs with me in that grimy Tardeo eatery long years ago, into @PSnide.

I don’t pray. I’ve always believed that God, if He (or She) indeed exists, helps those who help themselves. But at 4 pm on May 8, at about the time the funeral service was being conducted in Santo Estevam, I sat at my office desk and clasped my hands together. I prayed for Paul, I prayed for his sisters and his mother, I prayed for his dead father and mine.

I prayed.

The picture of Paul Menezes was taken from his Facebook page. The funeral notice appeared in a local Goan paper. A thank you to Nigel Britto for twitpicing it.   

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Grid and bear it

What power failures and oestrus cycles have taught me

Where's all the juice to power this gonna come from?
Two striking things happened in the last week. One, India experienced the world’s biggest power failure with the collapse of the northern and eastern grids; and two, the beloved dawgess, Kuro, all of eight months old, went into heat. Yup, both events were equally monumental for me. The first left me stranded at Chhattarpur metro station while it was pissing down rain outside, and the second has driven me to read everything I can find on our best chums’ chums*. Both occurrences have given me a Dafaq Chopraesque insight into my own personality.

Like, when faced with the absolutely hopeless, I look for ways to enjoy myself. The long hour at the metro station waiting for services to resume was spent tweeting about waiting for services to resume with occasional paeans about a peacock shrieking in a nearby tree. The fellow had a magnificent tail that hung halfway down the length of the lightning-blasted neem on which he was perched. The monsoon is supposed to make peahens amorous but despite his iridescent plumage and insistent cries, this guy wasn’t getting much joy. There is such a thing as trying too hard I suppose, and all the desirable peahens were probably fed up with his neediness. I mean, seriously, dude, (my sons have ensured I now talk like a pubescent male well versed in transplanted Americanisms) which sane chicklet’s gonna give you the time of day if you keep yelling, “Look at me, I’m so saxy!”? Anyway, the engine driver, a real life Bombardier babe, said she knew as much as we did about why services were suspended, so the crowd filed unhappily out of the station. I was wondering if I should walk back to Gurgaon, a distance of about 10km, flag down a mercenary rickshawala, or squeeze into a bus and allow myself to be sexually assaulted on the way to work, when a reporter from Aaj Tak thrust a mike into my face.

Kyon ho raha hai yeh? Aapko kya dikat hua hai?” he asked with the outraged urgency patented by television journalists. I briefly considered breaking into tears for the camera but remembered, just in time, that my eyeliner wasn’t waterproof. Should I talk about how I thought India’s power problem was only going to get bigger, that there was no hope, that we are going to decimate all our forests, eviscerate the earth for coal, render our indigenous populations homeless and blast the tigers, elephants, leopards, lions, all the fantastic creatures that roam the increasingly narrow green corridors of this land, out of existence, that our consumerist lifestyle was going to fuck us? Nah, the guy was looking for an exciting sound byte, not pages from some ecofeminist’s tome.

Kyon ho raha hai yeh?” the mike-thruster asked again, sounding a trifle querulous now. I mumble something so unremarkable even I don’t remember it and flee down the road to Gudgava. Taking special care to avoid piss puddles, rubbish heaps and lonely men wanking in the bushes, I come upon a bakery with a fancy Italian name – it must be the Sonia influence – and treat myself to a walnut pie and a cappuccino. By the time I’m done, the metro seems to be back on track, though an autowala with the face of Hindi film rapist tried very hard to convince me it wasn’t.
La magnifique pmsing dogess
To cut through all the blah, I got home to find the dogess looking wan and pale – a feat considering she’s deep black, but she pulls it off – and depressive. Hrmph, transference, I maintain until I discover the stained doggie bed. Ah, it’s true, dogs have menstrual mood swings too. Kuro and I look set to share a periodically-unhappy-happy future where we reel off lines from Plath and Rich together, before the Brufen kicks in. Ok, maybe not Kuro. She’s too young to abuse painkillers. Anyway, I now embark on morning walks with a stick to beat the shit out of males – the canine variety, though sticks strictly don’t differentiate between species -- who will, every doggy site assures me, inevitably step out of line. The mystery of why Simba-from-the-twentieth-floor was attempting to leap into our balcony, on the floor below, finally sorted. I’ve also spent many hours reading everything I can about dogs in heat.

What’s Kuro’s opinion on her oestrus cycle and the tripping northern grid? When you can’t control things, just savour the most delicious-stinky chewy you can find. Not much different, that, from me devouring walnut cake.

*1980s Mumbai schoolgirl slang for a menstrual period. Not sure of its origins or if it’s still in use.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Draupadi Speaks

One of the canvases in my 'Women in Indian Myth' series. Acrylic.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Reel Life

Picked up a wooden industrial reel from a roadside raddiwallah in Gurgaon yesterday and enlisted the kids to paint it in bright acrylics and transform it into a side table.

The chipped portions have been covered with coasters from Gogo Saroj Pal whose paintings of flying women I absolutely love. All in all, a table that makes me want to use it all the time :)